Cigarette tax increase drives New York smokers over the border
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Since New York state nearly doubled its cigarette tax in March, smokers have been crossing the border into Vermont to save on cigarettes.
Cigarette sales dropped in New York after taxes rose from 56 cents to $1.11 per pack. Customers have flocked to Indian reservations where there is no tax or to neighboring states, including Vermont, where the tax is 44 cents per pack.
At Boise Citgo in Bridport, eight miles from the New York border, owner Ray Boise said cigarette sales have jumped since March. New York customers account for most of the increase, he said.
''They say that they'd rather buy them over here because it's cheaper, and sales taxes there are so high,'' Boise said. ''That's all I ever hear them complain about.''
Most of the customers who buy cigarettes live in New York but work in Vermont.
The out-of-state customers tend to stock up on cigarettes, buying a carton or two rather than a couple of packs.
Mac's Convenience Store in Fair Haven does so much out-of-state cigarette business it sometimes sells out of popular brands.
''They all come over here because it's cheaper,'' said cashier Amy Bizon. Saturday the store did nearly $1,000 in cigarette business during one eight hour shift.
Although New York cigarette tax records show a noticeable drop in revenue since March, Vermont has not shown an increase.
According to the Vermont Department of Taxes, June 2000 cigarette-tax proceeds were about $2.22 million, down from $2.25 million for June 1999. Totals for the fiscal year are down about $115,000 from this time last year.